In a major setback to Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court on Friday extended the stay on the State government’s order, directing the release of seven life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

A Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana said the petition filed by the Centre, challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to remit the sentences, will be heard by a five-judge Constitution Bench. On February 20, the court had directed the Tamil Nadu government to maintain the status quo on its decision to release Sriharan alias Murugan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan and A.G. Perarivalan alias Arivu. The apex court had also stayed the release of Nalini, Robert Pius, Jayakumar and Ravichandran.

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